The assurance of the availability of funds for the healthcare sector and its timely release are expected to help address investors’ concerns regarding government measures targeted to ensure the economy’s recovery, an economist said.
Healthcare worker unions recently cited the possibility of strikes among their ranks while a nurses’ group warned of mass resignation due to delayed payment of benefits amid another surge in coronavirus disease 2019 infections.
Yesterday, the Department of Health said the special allotment release order for the P311 million-worth of Special Risk Allowance (SRA) for health care workers had been downloaded to its Centers for Health Development.
The fund will benefit an additional 20,208 healthcare workers.
The DOH said the funds transferred to the CHDs would then be released to their respective local government units and private health facilities in the next few days.
The release is the first batch of fund transfers for the grant of SRA to hospitals and health facilities that have earlier submitted an additional list of eligible health care workers.
“The timely disbursement of funds, especially for healthcare workers/medical front-liners, would be the solution to these concerns as part of the priorities during the pandemic in view of the risks involved in fulfilling their work that is crucial for the effective handling of Covid-19 cases, as well as other medical conditions by the health care system, which is also an important pillar to better control/manage Covid-19 local cases,” Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation chief economist, Michael Ricafort, said.
In a statement, the Department of Budget and Management said the grant of the SRA would be pro-rated, based on the number of days that the healthcare workers physically report for work in a month.
“About 20,208 public and private health workers directly catering to Covid-19 patients shall receive an SRA not exceeding P5,000 per month from December 20, 2020 to June 30, 2021,” the DBM statement read.
The DOH assured that it would continue to support health care workers.
The department, through its CHDs, has coordinated with public and private hospitals to submit the lists of eligible health care workers who are yet to receive the SRA until today, so as to allow the agency to comply with requirements to facilitate the requests of additional funding from the DBM.
Ricafort said the timely disbursement of funds allocated for the health care sector, along with the increase in the number of Filipinos who have received their Covid-19 vaccines with the aim of hitting “population protection and eventually the herd immunity threshold in the latter part of 2021 or early 2022”, are expected “to help justify further re-opening of the economy.”
The increase in the number of vaccinated individuals will also provide for higher production capacity and sales/income for businesses and create more jobs which will also allow the government to collect more revenues and reduce financial assistance as risks of lockdowns are decreased, he added.
EASING OF RESTRICTIONS
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, meanwhile, said he hopes that community quarantine measures next month would be less restrictive to ease the impacts of lockdowns on the economy.
During the Manufacturing Summit yesterday, Chua said 54 percent of the economy is currently under modified enhanced community quarantine, that is affecting 15.6 million workers.
“The 2021 prospects remain encouraging and our enablers include the acceleration of the vaccination program, the safe reopening of the economy while strictly adhering to the health protocols, and the full implementation of the recovery package,” Chua said.
He added that implementing these policies will prevent long-term scarring and productivity losses.
The government is eyeing a 4 percent to 5-percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year and bouncing to 7 percent to 9 percent by 2022, before easing to its long-term growth rate target of 6 percent to 7 percent by 2023 and 2024.
The country’s chief economist said the vaccination program against Covid-19 remains on track.
As of August 24, more than 31.1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in the country.*PNA